The Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission of the state reported a 300% increase in alcohol deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to state laws, direct alcohol shippers can send alcohol directly to people, within certain limits. A person who is over 21 years (the legal age limit for alcohol purchase) has to sign to complete delivery.
However, the delivery regulations that are currently in place are rarely followed and are only weakly enforced/ enforcable. For example, an investigation by the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) department of the state of California found that on-demand alcohol delivery apps harm youth by delivering alcohol to minors.
Exploiting COVID-19 as the largest global marketing campaign
Increased alcohol deliveries and sales seen in the U.S. and the rest of the world is not a coincidence. The alcohol industry perversely used the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis as the largest global marketing campaign to drive consumption even higher and increase their profits at the cost of people’s health and well-being.
On-demand alcohol delivery increases alcohol availability, drives higher consumption which results in increased alcohol harms suffered by people and communities.
This cascade of alcohol industry practice and adverse effects on society is specifically in focus during the ongoing health crisis. Alcohol weakens the immune system increasing people’s risk of being infected with the coronavirus. There are added societal problems such as violence and crime related to alcohol. During the pandemic the combined negative effects of Big Alcohol’s products and practices increase the burden on healthcare systems and emergency services. These are a few reasons why early on in the pandemic the World Health Organization advised to restrict access to alcohol.
The products and practices of the alcohol industry were already a problem for American society before the pandemic. But Big Alcohol’s perverse strategies to increase sales during the ongoing public health crisis, including through on-demand alcohol delivery and online sales, has further worsened the situation.
- A study published in JAMA Network found that alcohol sales rose by 14% in spring 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019.
- Another study from researchers at the RAND corporation found that alcohol consumption rose almost 30% during the pandemic, compared to a few months before.
- The effects of this increase in consumption are evident from the increase in alcohol-related liver disease in the U.S. An increasing number of younger people and women – two specific target groups of the alcohol industry – are increasingly presenting with this disease to hospitals.